The bright tulip peeking through the last snow of winter usually doesn't bring on the thought of spring allergies. Tulips are not allergen free. Those sufferers usually have a few weeks left before the pollens of plant life burst forth to irritate the nasal and respiratory passages. The unscented spring flower causes distress in some but the most common allergy complaint from the tulip is in the form of a skin irritant.
The tulip contains tulipalin, a substance that can cause skin irritation. Florists who work with tulips in the spring are susceptible, as well as other industry workers who plant, dig, clean or peal the tulip bulbs. It is recommended that gardeners and floral industry workers who come in contact with tulip bulbs, stems or flowers for any length of time wear protective clothing to protect skin from irritation. The tulipalin can also irritate the stomach if ingested.
Phytodermatitis is a technical term for a skin rash caused by a plant. Floral industry workers who work with all parts of the tulip plant or bulb often suffer a skin condition called tulip rash or tulip finger. It occurs in people who spend a lot of time handling the tulips. Bulbs, stems and flowers are all contributors to the skin irritation that causes redness and tingling of the skin. Uncomfortable and sometimes painful cracks and blisters may result from continued exposure to the plants. In some cases, the irritation spreads out from the area of skin that contact was made. Using gloves when handling tulip bulbs and flowers reduces the chance of irritation.
Tulip bulbs are considered a poisonous plant. According to the North Carolina State University website, the tulip bulbs have been used as a food source for humans in times of war and starvation. These instances have resulted indigestive discomfort. Reactions to the ingestion of tulip bulbs, even when boiled before eaten, include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, salivation and sweating. Reactions to the ingestion of tulip bulbs, even when boiled before they are eaten, include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, salivation and sweating.